It’s a tie damnit.

Just so we’re clear, the idea that the difference of Hillary or Bernie either having a few more estimated delegates (these aren’t even delegates to the DNC at this point) makes the “winner” is entirely silly on a practical level.  That said, if the current margin holds (Hillary 659 to Bernie 654 with 94% reporting) pretty much everybody will declare a “win” for Hillary.  That’s preposterous.  Given that she’s trailed Bernie in a number of polls even “winning” by a single delegate is a huge PR win for her campaign, since political reporting tends to only understand “winning and losing” not “picking up essentially 5 more meaninglessness delegates to the next level of Iowa delegate selection.”  Given how the press feels about Hillary and wants a race, if she does finish on the wrong side by half a dozen delegates or so, the media will be full of stories of her huge “loss.”  Of course in primary/caucus reporting it is all relative to expectations, but the idea that “winning” by being on the right side of 49.8 vs 49.7 in an ongoing contest with proportional delegate allocation is an example of a newsmedia doing the American public a huge disservice.

More, plus the Republicans tomorrow.  Big winner?  Rubio.

The Iowa prediction you’ve been waiting for!

Somebody will win.

I’m looking forward to learning the results, of course, but barring any major surprises, this isn’t going to shake things up all that much.  Even if Bernie wins, he is still a very long shot to win the nomination.  And, either Trump or Cruz winning doesn’t really matter all that much so long as neither one craters compared to expected support.  That said, if forced to predict, I would go for a narrow win for Hillary and a win for Trump.

Barring a massive under-performance by Hillary, there’s nothing else of interest to really look for on the Democratic side.  On the Republican side, I am actually much more interested in what happens with the lower candidates than whether Trump or Rubio wins.  Does Rubio pull off a strong third?  Does he slip unexpectedly to fourth (if so, that really hurts?  Do any of the other “establishment” guys to particularly poorly or well?  Even so, I think New Hampshire still ends up being more interesting in regards to those questions, barring a major over or under performance.

Well, I guess we’ll all know a few hours from now anyway.  But, of course, what really matters is not the delegates from Iowa (a tiny pittance), but how this all ends up being played in the media.  The key to primary/caucus is how a candidate performs relative to expectations, and we’ll see how that all has played out in the days ahead.

There is an “I” in Ted Cruz

So, I was reading through this Vox piece last week that nicely explains why all the Republicans who know Ted Cruz in DC hate Ted Cruz.  Party politics is a team sport and Cruz is definitely not a team player.  In fact, he is quite willing to throw his team under the bus to make things better for himself.  Actually, one of the classic definitions of a political party (from Anthony Downs) is that of a “team of men seeking to control the governing apparatus by gaining office in a duly constituted election.”

Anyway, here’s Andrew Prokop:

But the issue is broader than that — at heart, Ted Cruz is so loathed by Republicans because he’s not a team player. And not only is he not a team player, but he instead constantly positions himself as working against the Republican team in general and his Senate colleagues in particular…

Being a team player is very important in politics. It’s common for presidential candidates to trash Washington on the campaign trail: Barack Obama did it, and George W. Bush did it before him, and Bill Clinton did it before him. But all three were members of good standing in their respective parties — they didn’t pick gratuitous fights with their major partisan allies, and they certainly didn’t portray their parties’ leading electoral officials as corrupt sellouts trying to hoodwink their own voters.

Cruz has done just the opposite. For the past three years, he has been engaged in a very specific, pointed, and personal attempt aimed at painting practically every Republican in Washington as a corrupt phony and himself as the only honest man in the city. And his fellow Republicans don’t like this one bit. [emphasis mine]

Cannot get quite the analogy I want, but something along the lines of a baseball batter who will swing at an obvious ball to try and hit a home run whereas if he had just taken the pitch he would have gotten a walk with the bases loaded and his team wins.  So, it is pretty clear why Republican politicians hate Ted Cruz– he’s quite willing to screw them over for his personal gain.  I would also argue that this being his approach to politics reveals something about his character.



Ted Cruz’s lesson from social science– lie!

Fascinating what’s been going on with Ted Cruz’s  campaign mailers in Iowa.  Cruz has taken some nicely established principles from social science and taken to them to the next level by blatantly lying to voters.   Ryan Lizza with the details:

Ted Cruz’s Presidential campaign prides itself on being data-centric and on integrating insights from political science into its tactics. In 2008, academics at Yale published an influential paper showing that one of the most effective ways to get voters to the polls was “social pressure.” Researchers found that registered voters in a 2006 primary election in Michigan voted at a higher rate if they received mailers indicating that their participation in the election would be publicized. The mailer that had the biggest impact included information about the two previous elections and whether the recipient and his or her neighbors participated or not. “We intend to mail an updated chart,” the mailer warned. “You and your neighbors will all know who voted and who did not.”

Insights from the Yale study have since been adopted by several campaigns, including MoveOn, which also faced criticism when it used the tactic to turn out voters for Barack Obama’s reëlection, in 2012. Given its obsession with political science, it’s no surprise that the Cruz campaign decided to adopt the “social pressure” techniques to turn out voters in Iowa for Monday night’s caucuses. On Saturday, Twitter came alive with pictures from voters in the state who received mailers from the Cruz campaign. At the top of the mailers, in a bold red box, are the words “VOTING VIOLATION.” Below that warning is an explanation:

You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.
Below that, a chart appears with the names of the recipient of the mailing as well as his neighbors and their voting “grade” and “score.”

A further explanation appears below the chart:

Voter registration and voter history records are public records distributed by the Iowa Secretary of State and/or county election clerks. This data is not available for use for commercial purposes – use is limited by law. Scores reflect participation in recent elections. [Emphasis added by Lizza]

After looking at several mailers posted online, I was more curious about how the Cruz campaign came up with its scores. On all the mailers I saw, every voter listed had only one of three possible scores: fifty-five per cent, sixty-five per cent, or seventy-five per cent, which translate to F, D, and C grades, respectively. Iowans take voting pretty seriously. Why was it that nobody had a higher grade?

In Iowa, although voter-registration information is free and available to the public, voter history is not. That information is maintained by the secretary of state, who licenses it to campaigns, super PACs, polling firms, and any other entity that might want it. So was the Cruz campaign accurately portraying the voter histories of Iowans? Or did it simply make up the numbers?

It seems to have made them up. [emphasis mine]

Followed by more good stuff from Iowa State Political Science Professor who received a mailing and is pretty damn sure they are lying.

Damn, this guy is evil (even if he was not personally involved in this, he clearly empowers the type of people who see nothing wrong with this).  It’s one thing to try and take social science finding to increase your support in an election.  It’s quite another to send out a mailer to people lying about their own and their neighbors’ voting records.  Just wow.

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